For the past 38 years, Ballinaskeagh Grains Ltd has been supplying high-quality barley, wheat and maize for use in animal feeds across Northern Ireland and beyond.
This is a family business which was established by Pat Sloane. The roots of the business go back to 1981. Unsurprisingly, Pat hails from a strong agricultural background – livestock, to be precise.
Unseen by most and operating very much behind the scenes, Ballinaskeagh Grains Ltd. plays a crucial role in the health and welfare of livestock on countless farms north and south of the border. Animals tend to thrive when they have a healthy, balanced diet, so it is essential that the best-quality grains go into their feeds.
This is where Ballinaskeagh Grains come in as they have been providing farmers and mills with premium proteins and maize products for use in animal feeds. By sourcing and supplying quality products, the business has thrived down through the years and continues to do so.
“We got into grains in 1990,” said Pat. “We did that hand in hand with the livestock for a while before deciding to go into the grains full time.” It was an inspired decision and Pat has never looked back. Today, gainful employment is provided to a team of 15 people from their base near Banbridge, County Down.
The business has grown almost annually as their turnover has improved year on year, but one thing that has remained the same is the staff, with little or no change in this area over the last number of years.
“The majority of the employees would be here a good few years and they are a good team to have. They all know their jobs very well and they are familiar to the customers which also helps build a good relationship there.”
The vast majority of grains supplied are sourced in Ireland. Expanding a little bit on the exact nature of the business, the managing director explains: “We supply the grains which are used as raw materials in animal feeds, predominantly cattle and pig feeds. The grains are supplied to the feeders and they then grind them down and make their own feeds.
“The maize is imported but the barley and wheat would be native Irish grains, apart from on the rare occasions when we can’t source them at home. When they’re not available domestically, we will import them.”
The farming industry is suffering at the moment due to the fall in beef and lamb prices which has a knock on effect for the likes of Ballinaskeagh Grains Ltd.
“There has been a drop in demands for our products in recent times and that is due to the fall in price of beef and lamb. Hopefully, the issue over price can be sorted in the short term.”
Ballinaskeagh Grains Ltd. operates a fleet of six artics – all Volvos – collecting and delivering. A fleet of modern, immaculately-maintained Muldoon blown trailers makes sure that all produce arrives not just on time but in perfect condition.
“You have to run respectable and well-maintained vehicles. In view of threatened South African Flu (SAF) in China and surrounding countries, hygiene and safety are of paramount importance and we comply with all existing legislation and regulations governing the bulk haulage industry. We’re extremely conscious of that and operate to the very highest standards.
“Our aim is to constantly meet the demands of the customer. We bring our products straight from source to the end-user, which is far more economical.”
For balanced, nutritious, profitable feeds, fresh, natural ingredients are essential. They go straight from source to end user, although they have the warehousing to house thousands of tonnes of grains.
“Even if you are importing, you go straight from the port to the farm or the mill. It’s important to get the grains to the farmer as quickly as possible.”
Business is going very well and Pat has benefited from a large degree of customer loyalty down through the years, with the customer base growing significantly over the years.
“It has worked out really well for us,” Pat confirms. “We have had a lot of customer loyalty. This is a business that focuses on the customer and we do everything we can to achieve complete customer satisfaction and to facilitate their needs.”
As well as quality, customers will also demand a keen price. Pat admits that supplying grains at the lowest possible price without compromising on quality – something he will never do – is an ongoing battle. “It’s always a challenge and obviously you want to supply the grains as competitively as you possibly can. So you run an efficient operation and keep your overheads down and pass those savings on to your customers.
“Naturally, our customers want to get the raw materials at the best price they can, but they also need to secure high-quality raw materials. We use tried and trusted suppliers and all our grains are rigorously inspected at the time of purchase. Nothing is left to chance and we pride ourselves on supplying high-quality grains at a fair price.”
As a family business, Ballinaskeagh Grains Ltd. provides a personal touch. Pat’s daughter Gail is a mainstay of the operation, while his son-in-law Michael is transport manager.
Looking to the future, Pat hopes to keep things progressing as best he can by continuing to provide an exceptional service. “We’ll continue as we are and hopefully expand as time and demand allow, and as the agricultural sector allows. There’s no doubt that agriculture is the backbone of Ireland. That’s what’s keeping the economy ticking over.
“We’ll also continue to invest in the business. We keep abreast of new technology as it emerges and we are continuously updating and modernising our systems. It’s another way of making sure we offer a great product and service.
“Our business is grain and our customers know what to expect when we do business with them. We have built up a decent reputation and the aim is to try and improve on that.”
Ballinaskeagh Grains Ltd.,
14 Glaskerbeg Road,
Tel: 028 40651269 / 40651325
Fax: 028 40651366
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 7, December 2019/January 2020